Monday, August 26, 2013


“Mercy!” So many ways have I heard that word used.  I recall movies of the Emperors either raising their thumb or to the contrary at the screams of the innocents or the defeated who begged for mercy.  I have heard my mother many times exhale, “Mercy” or “My mercy” or “Lord have mercy.”  There is a Christian band called Mercy Me.  Do we give it much thought?

I think when we say a phrase like the aforementioned, we are gasping at something grand, awesome, or shocking.  I wonder if attached to the emotion exclaimed in “Oh my mercy” or “Goodness Mercy!” may also be a plea of desperation.  Have you ever said, “Mercy sakes”? 
Consider the wonder of God’s mercy and grace in our salvation.  This mercy of God that by His grace He saves us is a wonder isn’t it?  How undeserving we are that He would give us the thumbs up—extending mercy.  Out of God’s great love for us, He moves His will to favor us by sheer grace—a determination of His will.  I loved what Lacy Sturm said last week. It was something like this.  “Oh Mercy! God is holy.  And I am so not that. He would have every right to push me away.  In fact that would have been just…but He didn’t.”  That small word makes a lot of difference in our eternity doesn’t it?  “But God…”
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:4-6.

Sunday reflections

Just a few reflections from a wonderful Lord's Day:
  • From Jamie H. Williams' "Faith Matters" in the Sumter Daily Item--Having seen a truck with Grace written on the tailgate she thought..."I am glad in comes by the truck load!"
  • Comparing grace/mercy to the greatness of the Ocean, I recall my sister first seeing the ocean as a child..."Well, it's big." 
  • Lacy Sturm on the holiness of God and His mercy..."I realized the holiness and righteousness of God, and that I was not that!  He had every right to push me away...BUT, He didn't."
  • Mercy Tests could have been the title to the message.  How many mercy tests have you had since yesterday?  What is a Mercy Test?
    • A mercy test is when the mercy of God towards me is put to the test in me for others.
    • That neighbor that is just full of meanness despite the heaps of love and service I offer up
      • Lord, allow me just one more time to show mercy and not revenge!

Friday, August 23, 2013


In Matthew 12:7 Jesus taught us something about worship and charity, love and compassion. "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." I have been taught a lesson.  Yesterday, my heart sunk, and has been somewhat empty ever since.
I was raised attending every church function, every revival and even the "all the other" that my parents gave to the church as pastor and wife.  AND I do not regret that.  I love every memory.  I love the church, Christ's body of believers.  But yesterday's news does allow me to get a view of myself  that I had kept hidden from myself. For the first time I admit, rather reluctantly that I am religious.  I have often said to people, almost as if boasting, that I am not religious, I am relational.  Pushing on others that all of this "church" devotion that I have modeled all of my life is about my relationship with Jesus.  I am now humbled.  I am now more honest with myself. 
You see, yesterday--August 22, it was announced to me that a friend that I had not realized had taken my heart captive, was dead.  In fact, he had passed away August 9.  Upon receiving the news, I began to have a deep longing to speak with him just one more time.  To carry him from his house to his car, just one more time.  To clean his house or mow his yard for him just one last time.  To feed his bird and check his mail just one last time.  To visit him in the hospital or take care of his errands just one last time.  To push him in his wheel chair just one last time. To pray with him just one last time or laugh with him at the realities of this life here in the now. To drive him to pay his bill or deposit a check or just sit with him just one last time. To speak with him on the phone or listen to a voicemail or leave one.  To have him lend me his counsel from a life of struggle, pain, sickness, hardship, ridicule, abuse, neglect, handicap, loneliness and despair...just one last time. To hear him share insights God had given him in all these and from his reading of God's word...just one last time.  To cry with him just one last time. He was not my pet project.  He was a place where I could be a friend to "the least of these." I don't even like the sound of that, for he has become one of the many "mosts" in my life.  He allowed me to look in the mirror at my life, my religion or religiosity, my so often proclaimed "relationship" and see it not as an image or shadow, but for what it really is.
You see, Peter was handicapped from birth.  He was sexually and physically abused as a child.  He was picked on and thrown down in the streets. He had made a mistake in adulthood and paid dearly for owning up to it.  He was judged, persecuted, and basically thrown away.
I do not boast in any of this.  I boast solely in Christ.  I boast for my friend.  Peter has taught me much.  We all doubt ourselves.  We are often our own worst enemy.  We stupidly listen to that whisperer of deceit that suggests "I am not good enough." In this man, I gave.  I was a friend.  It started in obligation--That is just what a pastor should do. It continues in a wonderful and endearing friendship.  Peter, through his own suffering and exile, has taught me that true worship, true religion, true relationship with Christ Jesus my Lord, is in being like Christ not in my Sunday deal or my giving or service, but in my compassion, love and charity.  I hope I will not soon or ever forget the lesson of a year with Peter.  I will miss you brother!!! But, I shall soon walk with you.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Scripture memory

"Therefore, as you have received Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." Col. 2:6 NASB
"See to it, that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Col. 2:8 NASB

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teacher of the Year!!

Photo: Congratulations to this beautiful and incredible woman. Sumter School District Teacher of the Year! You deserve it! So proud of you mom! Love you so much :)
Many innocently asked why we were all there; if we had already been informed that Tina had been named the winner.  Last week, Tina Sorrells was named the Sumter School District Teacher of the Year.  Now Tina will be the first to tell anyone that many are more or equally deserving of the honor and I guess I will have to go along with her on that one.  But I do have a front row seat to the many hours this lady gives to education and her special second graders each year. She will always be my T.O.Y.  Tina loves teaching and gives far beyond what most people give to their career.  I am very proud of her.  Josh, Lauren, Dayton and I gladly share her each year with 20 or so children and all their parents.  Why were we there?  Regardless of any honors or titles, she has taught us by her example that birthdays, anniversaries, special awards or the potential to be honored are opportunities to celebrate.  It was not whether she won or not, we knew she might.  And we wouldn't have missed being there for the celebration or congratulation of either.  Tina said it best, "That is just what families do."  I am glad she won though.  As Esther in the Bible, I think this special lady was chosen for such a time as this.  She will be a great asset to the district's need to heal this year.  Pray with me for her.  Congratulations Tina!


Hello Ember Friends, I have to confess that I am still learning this blogging deal.  The main thing is developing a discipline to weekly post.  I have now set a calendar date to weekly post a blog.  I plan to do this each Monday in addition to each new insight trying to train myself to join cyber world with what God has shown me or anything else that is just cool to share!  Thank you for following.  I have few but desire to have many not for my sake but only to the glory and fame of God, who keeps each of us living, breathing and potentially bringing Him more and more glory.  So stay tuned.
Here is one thought I share before posting this week's weekly.  I read it in Psalm 52:1 "The mercy of God lasts all day long."
Please share with others how to join EMBERGLOW.  I really do desire to keep this living and breathing.  Any pointers will be well-received.